Posts Tagged ‘Suicide’

Arlington National Cemetery

Arlington National Cemetery [Photo credit]

As Memorial Day approaches, many Americans take time to remember our country’s fallen soldiers. While we recognize the ultimate sacrifice of those killed in combat, it is also important to recognize the even greater number of soldiers who have fallen after combat. Last year we lost active duty servicemembers to suicide at a rate of nearly one per day — almost twice as many as were killed in combat during the same period.

“…a crisis number has been launched for any active-duty member experiencing suicidal thoughts to dial, or for military family members to call if they spot a mental-health disaster looming within their home: 1-800-273-8255.”

And the rate is increasing. With 121 suicides recorded across all branches in the first four months of this year, the average has grown to one soldier suicide every 18 hours. Even more staggering are the numbers of veteran suicides. According to VA statistics, based on 2010 data from 21 states, the veteran suicide rate is about twenty times higher than that of active duty.

Paul Rieckhoff, founder and CEO of Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, noted  “how dysfunctional the VA system is right now for thousands of veterans around the country.” While efforts are being made to improve the quality of care and speed with which it is administered, the VA is still falling short. As veterans fail to receive the help they so desperately need, many turn to drugs and alcohol, struggle to maintain steady employment and, in an unfortunate number of cases, end up homeless.

So as you enjoy your Memorial Day weekend, take time to remember all soldiers who have lost their lives because of war, and consider ways in which you may be able to help stop this epidemic.

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